Don’t make assumptions about green consumers

Don’t make assumptions about green consumers

Assumptions are a dangerous business.

We love to put people into buckets. Whether it’s how someone looks, speaks or how they act, we immediately form a “rock solid” opinion of them. It’s part of our human psychology, born from an innate need for understanding.

For the most part, we all embrace the idea of being labeled. We each dress and speak a certain way to present an image and therefore cause assumptions to be made. It’s how we make sure we’re accepted into the right tribe while attracting friends that hold our same values.

This is all very common and often innocent in the world of the typical human being, but it can be a pretty big problem in the world of communications. Take, for instance, “green” consumers. They seem to fall into a nice, neat bucket that leads to a simple communication strategy. But don’t assume too much.

Contrary to popular assumptions, the greenest consumers love to consume.

Our Eco Pulse™ 2013 study tells us that Actives, our greenest consumer segment that makes up 24 percent of Americans, are  affluent early adopters. They’re the most brand-loyal segment, and they’re willing to pay more for a brand they trust. They’re also materialists who shop frequently, and they prefer shiny, new products to used ones.

The latest and greatest sustainable product or gadget is just too good to pass up. So it’s goodbye old and hello new. That’s an important mindset shift to understand when searching for a juicy target audience.

And don’t try to tell the green consumer what to do. That’s a sure-fire way to turn them off to your message.

Remember to use a key rule of behavior change: Give them options. Give this audience a choice, so they’re in control and know they aren’t being manipulated.

It’s a good way to inspire them to champion your message and brag about that smart choice to their personal network.

The most dangerous assumption about this group, however, is assuming they know more than they really do.

If you deliver a message to this group with the belief that they already get the intricacies of sustainability and your product, you may end up with a message that causes confusion or even backlash. So don’t assume they’re beyond the need for education and don’t pass up any opportunity to tout a sustainability aspect of your product, no matter how small.

Assumption in the sustainable communications world can lead you down a pretty rocky road.

Make sure you know what your audience is thinking and feeling right now, how their mindsets have shifted and how to properly bring them into the fold with your communications.



Posted on

July 17, 2013

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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